Smart home technology, while once just a revolutionary futuristic idea, is now a normal part of everyday life. Siri, text my wife and let her know I’ll be home late. Alexa, play baby shark for the kids. Google, find me an easy risotto recipe. Some of you may have your lights and thermostat connected also, or perhaps have a smart doorbell that you can answer from the supermarket. Smart home tech has topped the most popular Christmas gifts lists for the last couple of years. Even the older relatives are now likely to have at least an Alexa within their home.
But nice things aren’t always nice. As technology expands its presence and control in our lives, things can get a bit eery. Bugs and glitches are causing horror stories to hit the headlines and while smart home technology has risen in demand, people are now erring on the side of caution. We’ve researched the creepiest things your smart home tech can do, that you probably aren’t aware of, and have illustrated our findings with some eye-opening cartoons.
Your Tech Can Talk To Each Other
If you ask your Google Home what it thinks of Alexa, you’ll probably hear that ‘it likes her blue light’ and don’t be surprised if you hear a ‘thank you’ from Alexa herself. And it’s not just Google and Alexa, reports have incorporated Siri and Cortana into the mix. Ask your tech what it thinks of other devices and listen to them communicate. A conspiracy theorist might worry about tech combining forces.
Alexa Listens Out For Burglars
Ok so this has benefits. Alexa has a guard mode which means she’ll listen out for smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms and breaking glass. She’ll then alert your phone via a notification to raise awareness of an issue. So that’s cool, we don’t have issues with that. But! You can also request notifications from her guard mode for if people are talking or coughing or if footsteps are heard or doors close. It puts into perspective how every movement is monitored and that’s a little creepy.
Smart Home Technology Can Compromise Security
So while being alerted to alarms is all well and good, researchers have found that smart home technology is vulnerable to laser manipulation. If you change a laser’s intensity to a certain frequency and direct it at the microphone of a smart speaker, the voice assistant could interpret the laser as sound. This lets them command the assistant to do whatever, potentially including unlocking your door. You can read more about this vulnerability here.
Alexa Is Known For Her Creepy Laugh & Random Outbursts
This has apparently been fixed by Amazon changing the command for asking Alexa to laugh. Previously however Alexa would be known to laugh randomly without being asked and the laugh wasn’t described as a friendly chuckle.
Alexa Can Ruin Birthday Surprises
Alexa knows everything and she isn’t cautious on divulging details. Ask her when your delivery is due and she may go into what you’ve ordered and for what purpose.
Siri Is Always Listening
Siri and other voice assistants are always listening and they are recording conversations. It’s not unusual for Siri or Alexa to chirp up in the middle of an argument with information. What is more startling to discover is that Apple, Google and Amazon hire people to listen to our recordings so they can improve their software. That means employees at Apple, etc are hearing ‘confidential medical information, drug deals, and recordings of couples having sex’. Be careful what you say even within the confines of your own home.
Alexa Has A Whisper Mode
If you are whispering and Alexa realises your lowered tone she can switch herself to whisper mode and start whispering back. This can be handy for middle of the night requests or secret surprises but it’s also quite creepy how Alexa can replicate our abilities.
Advertisers Can Hijack Your Home Tech
Burger King hijacked Google Homes around the country to advertise their new whopper burger. The advert activated all Google Home devices to start detailing what a whopper is. To see our technology being hijacked and interrupted by people from outside our homes is scary. There’s been other horror stories around home tech being hijacked including baby monitors being hacked. Make sure you read about how to safeguard your devices when using them.
If these have hit home, let us know about your series of unfortunate events. And do let us know whether these scenarios have prompted you to put your tech back in the box… in the loft.